Seating for Cerebral Palsy – Zoe’s Story

CareFlex had the pleasure of meeting with Zoe recently. Rebecca Dunstall, Clinical Specialist, and Les Jones, Business Development Manager, met with Zoe, her key worker and her Occupational Therapist at a specialist residential college where she lived in her own supported living flat. The aim of the visit was to see if CareFlex specialist seating for cerebral palsy that could improve Zoe’s quality of life.

Zoe is a 21 year old sociable lady who enjoys music, photography and watching television. She competently uses an AAC device to communicate.

Zoe’s diagnosis is mixed cerebral palsy:

  • Zoe presents with ataxia and spasticity, but maintains a good range of movement as a result of her commitment to therapy.
  • She participates in regular therapy sessions, both on dry land and in the swimming pool.
  • She does not report experiencing any significant pain.
  • She is a wheelchair user; her Quickie Groove powered wheelchair gives her the independence she desires.
  • She also wears specialist shoes with ankle support to aid her standing ability as she is able to complete step around transfers with assistance of one.

At home, Zoe uses her wheelchair for all seated activities, including watching television, eating and drinking. Her wheelchair has bilateral lateral support, a two-point pelvic belt, a contoured cushion, and footplates. This set-up helps her to maintain an upright posture throughout the day. It also offers her the stability she needs to manage her abnormal muscle tone and movements, and encourages function. However, the ability to achieve a regular change of position is limited and the wheelchair does not allow for true relaxation at the end of a busy day.

There is a sofa in Zoe’s lounge but it does not offer adequate lateral support. The inappropriate seat height also means her feet are not supported on the floor and impacts on her standing ability which is not appropriate seating for her cerebral palsy .

During the seating assessment it was clear that Zoe would benefit from an alternative seating system to encourage a change of position and, more importantly, the opportunity to relax at home. Specialist seating will enable Zoe to feel comfortable whilst also continuing to manage her postural needs and encourage energy conservation.

Initially, Zoe trialled the SmartSeatPro, CareFlex’s revolutionary modular chair, as it offers similar postural supports to her wheelchair.

Zoe immediately relaxed into the chair; she communicated that she felt safe and comfortable.

The SmartSeatPro offers:

  • Flexible and adjustable postural support throughout, with lateral trunk support and head support.
  • A padded pelvic strap, which encouraged pelvic stability.
  • Adjustable seat depth that ensures Zoe has maximum contact with the support surface, which enhances her comfort levels and reduces her risk of pressure injuries.
  • An adjustable footplate that provides the feedback Zoe needs for stability, in turn supporting her abnormal muscle tone and involuntary movements.
  • A full width leg rest with channels that supports the lower limbs in as aligned position as possible.                       

Despite the clear benefits, Zoe’s non-complex posture and the ability to engage her trunk did not warrant the high specification of the SmartSeatPro. It was agreed with Zoe that a seating system that offered more freedom of movement and a different position to her wheelchair would be more beneficial. Therefore, the much-loved HydroTilt was trialled.

The HydroTilt offers:

  • Adjustable seat depth that ensures the correct set-up for Zoe and promotes pelvic stability.
  • Tilt-in-space further encourages pelvic stability while promoting comfort, energy management and a regular change of position.
  • A contoured back that comfortably accommodates Zoe’s posture whilst providing the required trunk support.
  • An adjustable footplate that provides the feedback Zoe needs for stability, in turn supporting her abnormal muscle tone and involuntary movements.
  • The appropriate seat height that safely enables Zoe’s standing and transfer ability in conjunction with the flip-up footplate.
  • A negative angle leg rest, which allows a more stable foot placement on the floor to further assist Zoe with standing.
  • A removable tray, which will enable Zoe to complete activities whilst sat in the chair.


Zoe was very clear in displaying her like of the chair; she communicated that the headrest offered significant comfort and the tilt-in-space function helped her to relax.

That smile says it all.

Sitting down is a major part of daily life with, on average, more than nine hours spent in a seated posture. Clinical objectives are important, but nothing means more than seeing a person smile because they are finally content for what is a significant part of their day.

Feelings of safety, being comfortable and having the ability to relax must never be underestimated. These are outcomes that are critical to a person’s quality of life and will ultimately determine whether they are compliant with using the chair.

At CareFlex, we strongly believe in our ethos: we strive to balance posture and pressure management with the individual’s own goals, whilst promoting comfort, independence and a meaningful life.

Get in touch to arrange a free no-obligation assessment if you think you or your loved one need a supportive yet comfortable chair, like Zoe, from CareFlex specialist seating.